Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Obama Administration: Why They Have Failed

A strong supporter of the Obama Adminstration, Deanne Loonin, wrote an excellent piece entitled, "Get Rid of Student Loan Collection Agencies," over at Higher Ed Watch. She too is frustrated by the student lending crisis.

Instead of helping the borrowers, who deserve protection and aid from agencies (like the Department of Education), these institutions have become entangled with corrupt outfits like Sallie Mae and Nelnet. So, they are of no use to anyone and only serve to protect these loan shark lenders. I'll say it again, they are useless; but it shouldn't be that way. I am a big believer in agencies that serve to protect citizens with stringent oversight programs.

In this case, the DoE has turned a blind eye to our pleas. That goes for Congress and the White House too. However, I recently had a good conversation with a great contact at (I have been begging for them to consider policy option that would entail immediate debt relief), and I was heartened by that organization's genuine interest in turning their attention towards debtors. It's high time someone paid attention to the student lending crisis, and I sincerely hope that their concern for our well being will influence the decicions that will be made on the Hill very soon. (Obviously, I hope that they will be able to persuade both the White House and the DoE [read Bob Shireman here] to focus on this disastrous situation). At this point I have some serious questions, and I'd like them answered in some sort of public forum:

-Aren't governmental agencies, like the DoE, supposed to function in a way that benefits citizens and helps to correct wrongs committed against them?

-Why aren't they doing anything for us?

-They could easily set up an 800-number for people who are having difficulty paying their loans and dealing with lenders' absurd and illegal activities. Why hasn't the DoE done something like this for student debtors?

-Why does the DoE as well as most of the politicians to whom we've reached out continue to send us generic form letters? (Moreover, I am presently being ignored by Ms. Michele Brown at the DoE. She has sent many of you the same tired letter that claims the DoE "can't change legislation, blah, blah, blah." I am eager to hear back from her. Why is she no ignoring me?).

-Seriously, why can't we solve this problem now?

At this point I can only conclude that this Administration has FAILED. If the DoE does not end their contracts with collection agencies for student loan debt, they will betray millions of Americans who only wanted to receive an honest education through honest funding. It's a disgusting shame that we've all been duped. 


Jennifer said...

Well said! They are taking advantage of us. Education is very important to America and the whole world. Why would they do this to us? What did we do to them, sign a piece of paper? or more like our life with all the inflation and interest that gets tagged on. I am having trouble getting back in school, Sallie Mae has really F*#$& my financial life up.

C. Cryn Johannsen said...

Thanks, Jennifer. You're not alone, and I hope that SOMEONE will listen and help us out.

Michael Shay said...

These student loan collection agencies are predators. I am locked in combat with General Revenue Corp., Sallie Mae's collection agency. I am writing to anyone who might be able to help. Time to direct my letters to the DoE.

P.S.: Cryn, we're going to miss you.

Nando said...

The United States Department of Education is owned - like the rest of the federal government - lock, stock, and barrel by the big bankers, the money masters, and their high-dollar lobbyists on Capitol Hill. They do not give a damn about the average man, woman, or child in this country - or any other, for that matter.

Obama is a gutless wonder and *the* personification of an empty suit, i.e. he has no backbone. He only said what everyone wanted to hear. He DID NOT mean a single word of what he said. He spoke in platitudes, throughout the campaign, so as not to offend anyone. The man stands for nothing - except for keeping up the status quo.

Meanwhile, student loan guarantors such as American Student Assistance refer to themselves as "public servant[s] to society." I suppose they are performing an unsavory service.

somers said...

what is the dishonesty? thx.

somers said...

you don't like this program?

Whittaker said...

"I am a big believer in agencies that serve to protect citizens with stringent oversight programs."

You need to wean yourself of this belief, unless you want to continue getting duped over and over again. Please remember that the organizations (Sallie Mae, college corporations, etc.) from which we are supposedly being protected were CHARTERED by the government in the first place. Regulatory agencies invariably become clubby and close with the institutions that they are supposedly overseeing.

Asking government agencies to protect us from Sallie Mae is like asking Saddam Hussein to oversee Usay and Quday so they don't rape and pillage so much.

C. Cryn Johannsen said...

I will not "wean myself" from that belief. You are obviously implying that this belief is naive and ill-informed. I think that's an attitude that allows for agencies, like the Dept of Ed, to operate in an inefficient as well as unethical manner. I also am aware that people within the DoE have sympathy for students. It's true, not all of them do, and many of them ought to be kicked out (the ones who worked for Sallie Mae and burrowed their way into the Dept.).

But accepting that it's all corrupt and ruined and forever wrong are dangerous conclusions to draw. You are expressing an embittered apathy, and I refuse to be a person like that.

I recognize that institutions are filled with human beings who make bad decisions and that affects the institutional functionality of said agency. But there is such a thing as being a good watchdog and insisting that the bureaucrats who fill these agencies act accordingly too . . . .

Whittaker said...

"You are expressing an embittered apathy"

Not at all. I agree with your campaign to forgive student loan debt, and I am optimistic that all of us who are suffering through this economy will eventually reorganize and be happy and productive. But I firmly believe that people work much better in small groups than in large organizations. The concept of big banks and big government is fundamentally flawed and cannot be fixed with more "oversight" and "regulation".

You really should study the history of banking regulation and realize how many generations of people before us thought that all we needed was another set of rules and "watchdogs" to fix things, and what a huge tangle of obscure and incomprehensible laws and bureaucracy we have as a result, while the problems get worse and worse.

What are we up to now, 2 million Federal civilian employees, a few hundred volumes each of Federal laws and regulations, and that's just at the Federal level. You're creating a situation where only those with lots of money and lawyers can navigate the maze. And that's not us! Not me, anyway.

C. Cryn Johannsen said...

Whittaker - I appreciate the follow-up and clarification. I have studied plenty of history to agree with your critique (if one takes a close look, for example, at the monstrous bureaucracies that emerged in the late 19th century in Europe, they get what you're talking about). I can't say I entirely disagree, and I think that you can conceive of watchdog groups at the micro level. I think you and I agree more than it may appear.

What elections matter the most and yet have the lowest turn out (for example)? Local elections.